Medical board to submit recommendations on revised medical fees on Friday

The Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Board (KMPDB) is Friday set to recommend new measures that will see fees charged by medical and dental practitioners reviewed downwards.

Board Chairperson Prof George Magoha told the press following an external stakeholders’ forum on Tuesday the measures aimed at revising the current fees that have been in effect since July 2016 will be forwarded to the Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki.

Magoha gave the assurance following a heated session during which the board was accused of abandon cheaper rates that had existed since 2006.

“Let’s have one goal of supporting President Uhuru Kenyatta achieve Universal Healthcare. My personal view is that I’d want government to empower private medical practitioners to contribute to the achievement of this goal,” he said.

Magoha defended the board from accusations of failing to conduct adequate public participation before the 2016 guidelines were adopted, regulations that have been termed as extortionate by sector players among them private health insurance providers.

“The fact that we’re looking at the fee guidelines is actually goodwill from KMPDB. The answer to propel universal healthcare cannot come from doctors alone – everyone has to be involved,” the KMPDB chair urged.

According to Magoha, the board had resolved to stop further increases to the minimum and fees charges for various procedures in the yet to be drafted 2019 guidelines.

“The board has taken a firm stand that because of socio-economic issues, rather than getting new charges for 2019, let us persuade our doctors to scale the 2016 rates down as we get a more comprehensive answer,” he indicated.

In a report released on November 15, last year, the National Assembly Health Committee had instructed the Health Cabinet Secretary to replace the prevailing fees with 2006 rates citing exorbitant prices.

The Sabina Chege-led committee had given KMPDB six months to come up with reasonable charges that would then replace the 2006 rates it had recommended be adopted in the interim.

Rights Activist Benji Ndolo who spoke at the KMPDB forum described the 2016 rates as exploitative saying they were fueling poverty as families with ailing relatives are forced to pay through the nose to access healthcare.

“The culture of exploitation continues to derail this country. Most Kenyans cannot afford these medical costs,” he said.

The 2016 fee guidelines were pegged on a 0.2 per cent compounded inflation rate factoring a 5.6, 6.5, and 6.8 per cent inflation rate in 2013, 2014, and 2015 respectively.

Those who spoke at the KMPDB consultative meeting on Tuesday however dismissed what the board justified as inflation-driven rates saying the average minimum wage had hardly changed over the period of time cited by the agency.

The 2016 rates set the minimum consultation fee charged by general practitioners at Sh 1,800 with that charged by specialists set at a minimum of Sh 3,600, up from Sh 1,000 and Sh 2,000 respectively.

According to the guidelines, the minimum fees general surgeries range from Sh 66,000 to Sh 132,000. The maximum charge for most of the surgeries ranges from Sh 60,000 to Sh 180,000.

Under the guidelines, urological surgeries cost as must as Sh 360,000.

Speaking on Tuesday, the chairperson of Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee in the National Assembly Jeremiah Kioni said the departmental committee will seek to abolish minimum fees in a bid to make healthcare more accessible in realization of the right to health as provided for under Article 43 of the Constitution.

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